Last Friday I did something I don’t usually do. I attended an event for an organisation called CDI Europe which was billed as a celebration of Latin America’s 200 years of Independence. CDI Europe is, as the name suggests, the European division of the Center for Digital Inclusion. Now, if you’re anything like me you’re probably scratching your head and saying Who? I was introduced to CDI Europe by Ana who I sort of know from Twitter. I had a look at their website and when Ana invited me to the event I thought, Why not? and I’m glad I went.
You see, ordinarily I don’t go in for networking events, I’m not a natural networker. I mean I’ve been working in the third sector for almost 9 years and I don’t even enjoy networking for the organisation I work for. When I reluctantly get press-ganged into it I usually look for a familiar face, usually one who also doesn’t like networking and then lurk in the shadows, within close proximity to the bar. So to attend an event where I don’t know anyone and when I’m not drinking alcohol is a big move for me and on a Friday night too!
Anyway, the highlight of the event was listening to a presentation from the founder of CDI, Rodrigo Baggio. Again, I have to admit to having had no idea who he was until I arrived at the event and chatted briefly with an American who mentioned his reason for attending was to hear Rodrigo speak. He advised me that Rodrigo was something of a legend so my curiosity was piqued. All I can say is Rodrigo’s passion and enthusiasm for the work CDI does was evident and quite infectious and whilst I didn’t stay very long after the presentation, all those networking opportunities squandered, I had much to think about on the bus journey home.
Okay, so you’re probably wondering just what it is that CDI does? It’s probably easier if I use one of Rodrigo’s quotes which sums it up nicely, otherwise you’ll be reading for another week before I spit it out!
“Digital inclusion is not just providing access to computers, but training people to use knowledge to become autonomous, to create and develop opportunities. This is the great potential of the technological revolution! This is the objective of our work at CDI.” – Rodrigo Baggio, Founder and Executive Director, CDI
Now, unless you’ve been reading this blog for a number of years you’ll quite possibly be unaware of the fact that in 2002 I started to learn Arabic. When I told people what I was studying the reaction was pretty predictable, Are you crazy? Why Arabic? The reason to me was a simple one. I had a dream, my dream was to go to Palestine and teach the kids/teenagers how to use computers, to show them how to harness the power of the internet to further their cause rather than strapping on a few sticks of TNT and blowing themselves to smithereens. Sadly my dream diminished when I realised I’d be an old man before I was proficient in Arabic, together with a few other problems that were kicking around in 2002.
So to find out that CDI are also branching out to the Middle East with a centre already established in Jordan was music to my ears! OK, perhaps CDI’s aims are not quite the same as my dream but it’s pretty damned close. It’s equipping our future generations with the tools and the knowledge to improve their lives and those around them.
CDI Europe are running a competition to win a return flight to Brazil. To enter all you have to do is make a donation to one of their schemes. If you donate to the scheme which raises the most money you’ll be entered into a draw for the flight. Full details can be found at CDI Europe’s Global Giving page.
Sometimes dreams do come true, they may not be exactly as we imagined them but from little things, big things grow. I would like to think that in my lifetime I’ll see peace in the Middle East. Perhaps Rodrigo’s vision can help achieve it?
CDI Europe has also completed a feasibility study for work in the UK. It sounds like a role reversal, Britain is supposed to be one of the major powers in the world and yet here is a Latin American organisation doing for our kids what we’d expect our government to do. Read more about it at CDI’s UK Feasibility Study site. The study was conducted by Iris Lapinski, I chatted with her briefly at the event last Friday and it all sounds very interesting, actually mirroring some ideas I’ve thrown up at the charity where I work, which have so far fallen on deaf ears. Expect to hear more about CDI in the future.